Recently, my family spent a snowy weekend in Chicago, trying to recreate the holiday magic of my youth when my mom would take us to Rockefeller Center and 5th Avenue to see the window displays, lights and skaters. Milwaukee has its charms, certainly, but nothing to match the glitz of Midtown Manhattan in December.
I found a decently-priced room -- for Chicago -- online at the Renaissance on Wacker and State and from our window we could see the Chicago Theater just below and Macy's (formerly Field's) just up the street. To my son's delight, we could also look the crane operator at the building site across the street directly in the eye. And perhaps best of all, our windows looked almost straight down onto the elevated loop train tracks!
A visit to see the windows at Macy's was topped by the kids that drum on the plastic buckets on State Street and the bike-based puppeteer a few yards further along. Inside, the wow factor of the decorations soaring through the atrium of the department store were matched only by the amazing super-sized stuffed animals -- and the "Big" piano mat -- in the FAO Schwartz section of the store.
A trip the next day to the Shedd Aquarium was a sure-fire hit, with lizards, leaping dolphins and croaking frogs.
Despite a "bargain" hotel room and a modestly priced dinner, we were reminded that there is no real budget-priced Chicago. However, my son clearly had a great time and so, all in all, the trip accomplished exactly what I hoped it would. Next year? I hope we'll be back again. I'll start saving now.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.